Tuesday, December 19, 2017

To Trope, or Not to Trope @LexxxChristian

by Alexandra Christian

You can’t talk about the romance genre without talking about tropes. Tropes are certain conventions that appear in literature. Those comfortable little plot points that we can nestle down in and escape. Some people are of the opinion that tropes are bad. That our jobs as writers are to break new ground and blow those tired old tropes out of the water. And I can definitely understand that point of view. I like to read different stories that aren’t like every story I’ve read before. But I can also appreciate the familiarity of a tried and true trope that makes the story an escape.

We all love things we can predict sometimes. Take the success of Midsomer Murders. It’s a British detective series that’s been running for a thousand years. If you watch it on a regular basis, you start to notice a formula: a body is found, Inspector Barnaby is called away from some quirky family business to investigate, they talk to everyone in the village that has reason to want the person dead, you think you know who the murderer is until that person gets murdered before the commercial break, the killer ends up being the person you least expected, and we all live happily ever after. People tune in for it week after week because the comfort of that formula is there.

Tropes do this for romantic stories in a very effective way. We want there to be twists and turns, but we have basic elements that we look for when we start searching for a new favorite read. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. MC in peril: Phoe Addison, the heroine of Naked, fits in easily with this trope. She is a woman that is in danger from outside forces and needs Cage’s help. I love these stories because the lovers are thrown together in difficult circumstances. They grow to rely on one another and their relationship grows through their teamwork at solving the larger problem. 
  2. Fairytales: As a child, fairytales were my favorite kind of story. Incidentally, fairytales are often romances at their core (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast… need I go on?). As a romance genre trope, the fairytale stories are often updated to present day, or transported to different settings or times in history. I love writing fairytales, as is evident in my books Beast of Burden and Huntress. In Beast, it’s an erotic retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” where the hero, Marek, is a werewolf. For Huntress, I found a very old Scandinavian dragon story for the basis of hero Malik’s redemption.
  3. Performers: Stories where one of the protagonists is a performer of some sort (actor, musician, etc.). Sometimes they’re called celebrity romances. I think we can all identify with those. I know that I’ve been mentally dating Benedict Cumberbatch for years now. I wrote a short, summery piece called Mr. Hollywood about a romance novelist in Bora Bora who meets her celebrity crush and has a little rendezvous. Gee… I wonder where I got the idea for that?
  4. Virgin: This trope can be controversial if the author doesn’t get the ages right. For me, the key to these kinds of stories is the slow-burning romance between the two main characters. Showcasing the alpha hero’s tenderness with an unsure lover can always bake my muffins. I tried to incorporate this trope a little in Naked with Phoe and Cage’s first love scene. Phoe is not very experienced and has been sheltered most of her life. She doesn’t come right out and say that she’s a virgin, but the concept is there. More obvious is in the first installment of my Queen Joanna series, The Virgin Queen. It’s a medieval romance where the heroine Joanna is married off to the king, who she assumes is a cold, disfigured brute. He turns out to be quite the opposite and their story is probably one of my more luscious stories.
  5. Protector: I know, you’re going to take away my feminist card, but I love this trope. A story where the hero has to protect the heroine in some way-- those make me melt. Now, that’s not to say that in the same story, the heroine can’t turn around and rescue him right back. In Naked, Phoe is very timid at the beginning and Cage steps up and protects her from the men chasing her and from the terrible creatures that try to kill them. She’s terrified at the prospect of leaving her home and is paying this “big strong man” to help her through it. Of course, by the end, Phoe becomes a badass in her own right and has to help Cage out of some sticky situations.

So tropes can be useful tools in choosing stories as well as writing them. They can also be traps, so choose wisely. The trick is to take those comfortable tropes and give them a twist that will make them stand out from the rest.


Macijah "Cage" St. John' didn't want the spy life anymore. He would have been thrilled to spend every morning lying in the field behind Phoe's home in smalltown Louisiana watching the clouds roll by. But his Miss Addison wanted to spread her wings, literally. So Cage accepted a mission that teamed him up with his lady love. If only he had trusted her.


Everything about being a spy was a million times more exciting, and scarier, than the books she'd read in her former life as a librarian. When her first mission with Cage turned into a colossal clusterf*ck because he withheld information and kept secrets, Phoebe's world narrowed into a long tunnel of betrayal. Captured by space pirates and delivered to a horrible fate, she wished the last words between them had been of love, because she was certain she would never see Cage St. John again.

About the Author:

Alexandra Christian is an author of mostly romance with a speculative slant. Her love of Stephen King and sweet tea has flavored her fiction with a Southern Gothic sensibility that reeks of Spanish moss and deep fried eccentricity. Lexx likes to keep her fingers in lots of different pies having written everything from sci-fi and horror to Sherlock Holmes adventures. 

A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell,” Lexx is a native South Carolinian who lives with an epileptic wiener dog and her husband, author Tally Johnson. Her long-term aspirations are to one day be a best-selling authoress and part-time pinup girl. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America.

Amazon Author Central:


Monday, December 18, 2017

SFRB Recommends 78: Huntress of the Star Empire by Athena Grayson

Ever since she was found in the aftermath of alien attacks, Treska Sivekka, the Huntress, has been trained to hunt down threats to the security of the Union that gave her an identity, and the Union’s biggest threat–psypath Micah Ariesis–is in her crosshairs. The Huntress’s neuro-collar and repulsor cuffs may keep Micah’s mental talents under wraps, but getting him in handcuffs was the easy part. Every scumbag in the star system wants a piece of the Huntress and her bounty. But when the Union’s biggest threat exposes the lies around Treska’s missing memories, he may be the only one she can trust.

I love when science fiction can ask questions about society. In Huntress, Grayson posits one possibility of what happens when factions use tragedy for their own gain. Horrific alien attack? Let’s use that to our advantage and try to use it to shape society the way we want to. Let’s persecute the purple people and psychics! Let’s clamp down on decadence! Let’s brainwash people to not commit vice! 

The lead and side characters are sympathetic, heroic, and memorable, trying to deal with questions of how to make it in a society that exploits or demonizes them. The adventure is good pulpy fun, and the attraction between Micah and Treska, while present at the beginning, manages to develop organically. 

n.b. So far, we have one “season” of the Huntress. Micah and Treska have more of their story to tell us. This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Genre Wars: Why I Like Combining Science Fiction with Romance @CarmenWBuxton

By Carmen Webster Buxton

Romance and science fiction are seen by many readers as two unrelated genres. Of course, you could call any story a romance if the primary plot is the development of a romantic relationship. A benefit, to me, of focusing on a romance means, to some extent, the book will have two protagonists. On the other hand, science fiction can involve extrapolating future technology, human evolution, alternate history, alien contact, and any number of other non-real but non-magical things, with any number of protagonists.

Some people want to make genre into a folder into which they put stories. I find that limiting, because if you have a physical document, you can only put it into one folder. I consider genre more a label than a folder, and stories can have as many labels as they need. That’s one reason I like ebooks; you don’t worry about where to shelve them because an electronic shelf is virtual and can exist in more than one “place.”

What appeals to me about combining the two genres is that while I find the future intriguing, I want it to be at least a little bit familiar. Looking back at history, we see that societies change, but human emotions are more constant than politics or technology. People still fall in love. Parents still love their children. Family relationships are still with us.

Most of my books are set in the far future. A common thread in many of them is that our world could become a crappy enough place that some people might be willing to leave it permanently. In the two Haven books (The Sixth Discipline and No Safe Haven) the colonists included New Age mystics, libertarian survivalists, and entrepreneurs seeking resources to exploit.  In Tribes, the entire world was populated by prisoners. In Saronna’s Gift, my most recent romance, the colonists were followers of a patriarchal religious cult leader. I like to make my two protagonists come from totally different backgrounds, because it’s a great way to create conflict, and it means the relationship requires both work and change for both of them. Creating my own worlds lets me do this with a vengeance.

I do think that our future is bound to bring change. Advances in science and technology might well wipe out inherited flaws and other diseases. We may someday eliminate hunger, disease, mental illness, and even some accidental deaths. But I don’t think science and technology can change human nature. This might be bad when it comes to evils like war and social inequality, but I think it’s good, in that it also means that love will always be love.







Saronna's Gift available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S3GH9ZW

Follow Carmen Webster Buxton: http://carmenspage.blogspot.com/


Note: the views expressed are solely those of the author and not the SFR Brigade.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When Series Collide @CynthiaSax

by Cynthia Sax

Dark Warlord, the sexy SciFi Romance story I contributed to the Alien Alphas box set, spans two series – the Dark Thoughts series and the Barbarian Warlord series (to be expanded and re-released in 2018). Since the Dark Thoughts series is a spinoff of the Cyborg series, I guess you can say it involves that third series also.

Dark Warlord is a standalone story. You don’t need to read the Dark Thoughts series to enjoy it. But if you have read that series, there is a returning character you’ll likely enjoy seeing again. You’ll also get some of the casual ‘throw-away’ references in the story.

As a reader, I LOVE when two series written by the same favorite writer collide. I find out more about both worlds. I witness how the characters from the two series interact. Sometimes we get updates on favorite characters from previous stories. It gives even more fullness to the setting and storylines in both series.

In SciFi Romance, it makes sense to me that multiple series would overlap. All of the characters in my current series are living in the same wonderful universe at the same time. The Chameles from the Barbarian Warlord series are super skilled alien warriors. It is logical that the Humanoid Alliance from the Dark Thoughts series would take the genetic makeup for a Chamele warrior and genetically enhance it, making that warrior even deadlier.

From a writing point of view, crafting overlapping series is more difficult in some ways and easier in others. We have to keep track of where each series fits in the larger universe, be conscious of how actions in one series might affect other series. That can be challenging. On the other hand, when we write a scene like the Cantina scene in Star Wars, we already have a host of alien species to casually feature. I know how a Chamele (one of my alien species) looks and tends to behave because I’ve written an entire series about them. That’s an easier scene to write.

And it means more to me as a reader. If I know, for example, that two species don’t get along and are in the same closed space, I anticipate that a fight will break out. I’m waiting for it and I get a thrill when it happens.

What are two series (by any writer) you would like to see collide?  


Alien Alphas: Twenty-Three Naughty Sci-Fi Romance Novellas

Fierce warriors. Savage barbarians. Powerful warlords.
All ready to claim their mates.

Alien Alphas is a collection of panty-melting sci-fi romances featuring dominant alien heroes, penned by New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors. This decadently naughty box set includes twenty-three ALL-NEW, stand-alone novellas full of hot alien alpha males, breathless passion, and reluctant surrender. Take an exhilarating trip beyond the stars with this limited time only bundle that’s sure to leave you turning the pages late into the night.

Featured authors: Cari Silverwood, Cynthia Sax, Renee Rose, Lee Savino, Addison Cain, Kallista Dane, Maren Smith, Ava Sinclair, Sue Lyndon, Emily Tilton, Ashe Barker, Korey Mae Johnson, Grace Goodwin, Ivy Barrett, Jane Henry, Jaye Peaches, Katie Douglas, Lili Zander, Loki Renard, Maria Monroe, Megan Michaels, Myra Danvers, Sara Fields, and Sophie Kisker

Publisher’s Note: The stories featured in this collection involve MF and MFM pairings. They include spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this box set.

Buy Links:


About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/cynthia.sax

Twitter:  @CynthiaSax

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